The engine is rolling once again for the Kettle Valley Steam Railway.
The iconic Okanagan attraction kicked off its 2023 schedule last weekend and will continue to offer scenic rides Saturday, Sunday and Monday until the end of June, when its busier summer schedule will begin.
“We have the most amazing heritage railway around,” KVSR business manager Tasandra Crozier says. “We have a wonderful, 111-year-old steam engine.”
The 16-kilometre KVSR is all that remains from what was once a bustling railway system throughout the B.C. Interior. Passenger service ended in the 1960s, and freight stopped rolling in 1989. Most of the 500-kilometre line was lifted, but not the part that runs between Summerland and 16 kilometres to the west.
The Kettle Valley Railway Society was born, and now it lets people enjoy the sights and sounds of old-time rail travel, along with beautiful vistas.
There are two trips a day, with departure times of 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., and passengers can sit in open-air cars or vintage coaches, which were built in the 1940s.
“We leave the station, and we head down to the Trout Creek trestle,” Crozier says, noting the train at one point is 238 feet above the canyon floor. “As we go along you can see views of Summerland as well as orchards and vineyards."
When the train reaches the end of the line, the Spirit of Summerland engine uncouples from the cars and prepares for its return to the station. Guests are then able to get off the train for 10 to 15 minutes.
“It’s a great opportunity to get a picture up close and personal with the steam engine," Crozier says. "Then you board again, and you head back to the station. So in total it’s about an hour and a half-long trip.”
Kettle Valley Steam Railway also conducts several special events throughout the year, including a dozen Great Train Robbery and BBQ rides, as well as two Murder on the Rails murder mystery trips. They sell out quickly, so don’t delay in getting a seat.
More information about Kettle Valley Steam Railway can be found on its website here.